What has five letters, has left its indelible mark on the whole world, is at the source of medical, political, and societal debates, and causes public anxiety at the sheer mention of its name? You guessed it. COVID.
And despite being fully vaccinated and receiving the booster, I contracted it. With my COVID diagnosis came shock, dismay, and unbelief. As the hours progressed after the initial test results, those emotional effects turned physical really quickly and included laryngitis, a sore throat, a cough, congestion, a headache, body aches, and fatigue.
Did I go to a super-spreader event? No.
Do I still wear a mask? Yes.
Did I catch it from traveling? No.
Do I even know how I got it? Yes, and keep reading.
I was down for about 6-7 days. My bed became my primary place of respite. When I wasn’t sleeping, I was watching television or making notes for this post. I never lost my senses of taste or smell, nor did I lose my appetite, so I was also eating. COVID is interesting because it affects everyone differently. The medical community is doing its best to track the symptoms, the numbers, and the side effects, but they are constantly learning something new about this virus. Once COVID affected me and my family, I learned even more, and believe it or not, I’m still not an expert.
I am, however, a writer who loves to talk about experiences, and this one is no different. I truly believe that when we go through things, part of our assignment is to learn from them and share what we’ve learned with others. So here we go….the good, the bad, and the ugly reality of having this disease.
- Judgment is real. People tend to assume you did something you weren’t supposed to be doing. I am fully vaccinated and I got the booster. I wear a mask everywhere. I very rarely go grocery shopping in the store..shout out to Instacart and Amazon. The bottom line is that anyone can get it. If you do get it though, get ready for the great inquisition from your friends and loved ones.
- Speaking of inquisitions, depending on where you test and what the protocol is for your state, county, or city…and possibly your employer, all these entities can and will call you to ask you about symptoms, contract tracing, etc.
- Did I answer all the questions? I did, however, it’s going to be your choice if you ever find yourself in this situation. No matter what their tone was, I knew most of the people in my circle were asking questions because there is so much we don’t know about the disease and they were trying to arm their own immune systems with information. As far as my employer is concerned, I welcomed the questions so they can make the best decisions about our workplace safety as possible. I also spoke with County health officials and the CDC, those conversations were optional but I chose to talk to them in the name of medical research.
- Was I embarrassed? Absolutely not.
- Did I want to keep it a secret? Not at all. I know some people do prefer privacy but for me, why the secrecy? People need to understand the prevalence of this disease.
- One of the key components of my recovery was the community around me. Even though I was quarantining and isolated at home, friends and coworkers arranged for pizza delivery and brought food, medicine, vitamins, water, smoothies, orange juice to my front door. They would place the items at my door, go back to their car and then text me so I would know it was there. They’d wait for me to come to get the items, I’d wave, and then they’d drive off. This was important because I knew they wanted to see me and make sure I was ok. That little bit of interaction made me feel better too.
- If COVID hits your family, look for the helpers. Helpers can be medical professionals, family, and friends. Look for the helpers and let them help you.
- Community is important; empathy goes a long way. If someone you know is affected by COVID, it doesn’t matter how they got it…be empathetic.
- The guilt when telling the people you’ve been around is absolutely awful. It may just be me but I felt like I have wrecked their whole livelihood. And incidentally, I exposed six people to the illness and none of them tested positive, including my elderly parents.
- Was I scared? Most definitely. I did not want to be one of the stories we hear about that says so-and-so got the vaccine and then got Covid and died suddenly.
- Don’t sleep laying flat. I propped rows of pillows up behind me and I was laying against them.
- Early intervention is important. I immediately called my doctor once I knew I had the illness and asked them what I should do. Within hours I had a prescription for an antibiotic, a short course of steroids, cough medicine, and decongestant with strict instructions to get rest, hydration, and vitamin supplements.
- For me, Covid disguised itself as something familiar. My first symptom was a tickle in my sinus cavity that was cured with one dosage of a decongestant. My next symptom was laryngitis four days later. All of it was normal to me because I traveled the week prior to being diagnosed with a sharp change in the weather climate. I thought Covid’s symptoms were going to be unusual and because of that, I’d be able to identify the virus. I was wrong.
- Covid information, medical protocol, and available treatment options are all regional. I had cousins in Miami, Mississippi, and Houston all telling me different information, based on how the pandemic is being handled in their local areas. The best advice I could take was from my own doctor and the Dallas County Department of Health & Human Services.
- What we put in our bodies matters. I chose healthier eating options when I was sick, and I think that helped my energy levels and immune system. Because of that, I’ve now committed to healthier eating all around. Whole 30 me, please.
- Find moments that will allow you to laugh. Covid sucks. Being sick sucks. Not being able to see friends and family members totally sucks. Find laughter when you can and where you can. You’ll need it in the long run.
- There are lingering side effects to this illness. Know what they are and how they can affect you. I’m currently dealing with mental fog, confusion, and problems with my short-term memory. Often I have to remind myself what day of the week it is and my kids say I forget many conversations we’ve had.
- Ease back into your normal routine. Just like we know about the pandemic as a whole, things aren’t going back to normal. Instead, we have to learn how to navigate a new normal. Gradually get into a routine that works for you…and if you get tired, your body is telling you to rest.
- We have to be willing to sit down, stay home, and put our own desires aside for the sake of the health and safety of ourselves and others. I know that this pandemic has taken a toll on us all and we miss seeing friends and family. I also know that if we allow ourselves to risk our health and safety just because we want this to be over, things will only be worse in the end.
Having Covid is no joke. Because there’s still so much we don’t know about the virus, and the information is constantly changing, we got to stay proactive and take the necessary measures to protect ourselves and the people we love the most. I’m curious though, what have been your personal experiences with Covid?